Christmas is all about excess: too much food, too much wine, too much time with family members that we avoid for the rest of the year and all in all too much spent. You’d think that I’d welcome the New Year in with a month-long repentant and purgative fast. Instead I’m going in search of a good burger.
There have been recent rumblings in the principality of a restaurant where the food is unbeatable, the service friendly and the bill not extortionately high: a burger joint no less. I rush along to the port to find out more. The venue is all bare-stone walls and sleek black furnishings. It feels hip without trying too hard. The queue at the self-service counter is reassuring, the name a little less so.
Son of a Bun (30, route de la Piscine, tel: 97-98-70-70, www.sonofabun.fr) joins an illustrious line of burger restaurants whose names are dipped in heavy puns and double-entendres such as Buns and Balls, Burgatory and my personal favourite Au Cheval. It’s part of a mini-chain whose sister outlets are both food trucks (in Cagnes-sur-Mer and Carros). This bodes well as the best burger I’ve ever tasted came from a food truck at the end of a long student night out many moons ago.
The menu is short and to the point. After all, there’s no point in being over-flowery when it comes to burgers. There are eight choices of Badass Burgers including a chicken option, plus an obligatory salad of the day for those who probably shouldn’t have come to a burger joint in the first place. If the limp coleslaw were anything to go by, I’d give the salad a miss.
When we finally sit down with our burgers, I’m not disappointed. Son of a Bun gets the important things right: they’ve sourced good-quality beef and added a pillowy brioche bap. Everything else is window dressing. It doesn’t even matter that the tasty, but mysterious orange sauce bears an uncanny resemblance to Heinz’ American sauce (I spy a telltale Heinz bottle in the kitchen).
I have come with my girlfriend who used to manage the private finances of one of Monaco’s billionaires. Now that she’s a full-time mum, she simply muses about quantum mechanics in her spare time. As usual for Monaco ladies who lunch, we turn to the dilemma of Schrödinger’s cat with real-life equations*.
So I ponder: “Can I consider Monaco’s freedom of the press to be both dead and alive at the same time until I have tested the limitations of acceptability in print? Can I say this is the best burger in Monaco or not until I have eaten burgers at every other potential venue in town at which point I may turn into a Super Size Me?”
At this point, my friend turns to me and tells me that such superpositions are no longer relevant as the whole probabilistic basis of quantum mechanics has recently been turned upon its head. A deterministic approach is now preferred where the future evolves dynamically from the past. As I thoughtfully munch upon a burger that would make George Motz smile, I wonder what the future will hold for Monaco diners given the past?
*Schrödinger’s Cat is a cat imagined as being enclosed in a box with a radioactive source and a poison that will be released when the source unpredictably emits radiation, the cat being considered to be simultaneously both dead and alive until the box is opened and the cat observed.
To read earlier Monaco Foodie columns, including the infamous Kitchen Nightmares: http://monacolife.net/index.php?action=edit&id=2459
Louise Simpson is a food and travel writer based in Monaco. Since studying French literature at Cambridge University, Louise has written for The FT, The Times, Condé Nast and The Independent in the UK and for Zagat and Google in the US. She also publishes travel books with Frommer’s: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Simpson/e/B0034OTN6Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1373370624&sr=8-2.
From the Editor: As editor and publisher of this on-line newspaper I have been on the receiving end of a number of letters about the opinion piece by Jeff Daniels entitled ‘When the pencil is more lethal than the sword.’ One private correspondent noted that “it does not add any(thing) positive to (the) Monaco Life image and to the work you do to inform the English speaking community.” In my reply I said: “Good publications give a great amount of leeway to columnists but operate self-censorship, as I do as publisher and editor."
The Jeff Daniels column has attracted many intelligent responses from readers, none of them agreeing wholeheartedly with all that Mr Daniels has said, and most of which I am in the course of publishing as they arrive. This expands the scope of journalism in Monaco Life, and rather than discrediting my publication, gives it an extra dimension.” In response to this and other letters I have asked Mr Daniels to make it clear that he is opposed to terror attacks, as I am.
His latest opinion piece appears below, and my I caution that Mr Daniel's humour is arid, not dry. Some readers may find that it is difficult to tell his seriously-held views from his jokes. I understand he has Australian friends. Undoubtedly, his tounge-in-cheek style may be baffling to some. It is very English humour. Ian Brodie
Spelling it out
AN OPINION PIECE: One of my great regrets when I lie on my deathbed will be the fact that for some time to come many people will speak English with an Australian accent, often through clenched teeth. There will be nothing I can do about it, nor anything less pressing, now I come to think about it. In the meantime, accelerating global warming will make life down under warmer, ever more perilous, and many camper vans, pets and crocodiles will go up flames. More Australians may die…
However, please, dear reader, let me make myself clear. I am not in favour of bush fires. I draw this cunning parallel - try saying that in Aussie - because there has been a torrent of letters to this newspaper claiming that I am one glass of red wine away from being a full-bodied terrorist. There has not been such a heavy mail bag since last month’s Monaco Foodie column that said that some Monaco eateries were hardly up to scratch. Back to massacres: One irate correspondent claimed, in our Letters to the Editor, that I am not a journalist but an apologist for terror. Steady on Madame!
That I am indeed a journalist can be deduced from the fact that my by-line appears on these very pages. That’s sorted. Next problem, maybe a little more tricky: Do I really have to spell out the fact that I did not wish for the deaths at the Charlie Hebdo office? Do I? I was as appalled by the atrocity as anybody else, but unlike those of us who jump to a simple conclusion I tried to look just a little bit deeper. My column was not an academic exercise designed to demonstrate and test the freedom of the press, such as it is, but a natural curiosity about the world around us.
Incidentally, and I promise to come back to the Australian problem before I finish, it’s clear to me through the mist of a very fine St. Emilion that Charlie is the holy cow of French publishing. But in fact, a very lonely cow. To use another image from the Indian sub-continent, Charlie has been and is untouchable. I call on no greater authority than His Holiness the Pope, who said on Thursday that there needs to be a limit to free speech. If anyone cares to read my last column, that was the point I was feebly trying to make.
As for the facts in my last article about the killing of journalists, they are all on record. On another serious note, listen to a speech by the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott. This one is a New Year greetings effort. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2015-01-01/new-year-message
Readers may also not like, from the UK’s Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11346641/Charlie-Hebdo-founder-says-slain-editor-dragged-team-to-their-deaths.html
Jeff Daniels, Thursday, January 15, 2015
When the pencil is more lethal than the sword
AN OPINION PIECE: I am a journalist and I am NOT Charlie just as I am not a policeman. There are many reasons. I am not in favour of the publication of obscene cartoons, in which Charlie specialised, especially when they target religious leaders, nor do I believe that in the wake of the terrible events of last week the flag of press freedom should be hoisted in favour of a racist publication.
A club of self-satisfied scribblers, boys who never grew up, the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo had it in for Muslims, there can be no doubt about that, whatever its apologists might say about no-one being safe from the poisoned pencils of its celebrated team. The imbalance is clear.
In effect, and despite its leftist reputation, Charlie Hebdo consistently attacked the very notion of a multi-cultural society. The irony here, of course, is that the National Front will almost certainly gain in coming months and will undoubtedly reap a tremendous harvest of votes ahead of the next presidential election in France. And why not? If the French wish to curtail further immigration and insist on greater integration of existing minorities they should not be lambasted for that. That will be the free expression of the people and they should not be labelled racist, although the left-wing press will not pause for a moment. But the irony is deep.
On Thursday I attended the ceremony in Beausoleil in memory of the victims of the Wednesday attack that left 12 people dead. The minute's silence was observed in front of council employees, a representative of the national police who had motored over from Menton, and 25 other people representing Beausoleil's miniscule French population. Make of that what you will.
The next day, in a torrent of stomach-turning images I was particularly sickened to see Obama shuffle along to the French embassy in Washington to sign the condolence book in support of press freedom. The American government has repeatedly targeted, attacked and killed foreign journalists, including reporters and TV crew from Reuters and Al Jazeera. It’s all on record. Press freedom is fine, as long as journalists toe the US line.
Among the other leading hypocrites are the Saudi Arabians and the Chinese. No press freedom there. Neither in Turkey nor Russia, all made welcome at the demo in Paris on Sunday.
Journalism, the best of it, exists within a nexus of responsibility and self-control. And if freedom of the press is the holy grail, ring-fenced from the real world, why is that websites supporting jihad are closed down and their publishers punished? Because freedom of the press is at best a fantasy, and at worst a very relative concept indeed.
Jeff Daniels, Sunday, January 11, 2015
Please see Letters to the Editor, below. Also, Monte-Carlo Diary, centre colum
VIDEO: 'I am Charlie' says Monaco...
Please see related report in main news column
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